The incredible scenes when the Lord Mayor of London made the proclamation for the 1893 National Eisteddfod in Pontypridd
This weekend sees the historic Proclamation Ceremony taking place in Aberdare for the 2024 Rhondda Cynon Taf National Eisteddfod.
The Proclamation is a Gorsedd Cymru event announcing that the Eisteddfod is on its way to an area and takes place at least a year and a day before the festival begins. The List of Competitions is also announced.
Whilst Saturday’s ceremony will undoubtedly be an exciting event, as the countdown gets underway in earnest for next year’s event, it is unlikely to match the scale and excitement of the Proclamation for the 1893 National Eisteddfod in Pontypridd, described as probably the greatest National Eisteddfod of the 19th century.
A recently published book by author Sheldon Phillips details the extraordinary outpouring of pride as Alderman David Evans, originally from Llantrisant, who was appointed Lord Mayor of London in 1891, returned to Wales to take part in the Proclamation Ceremony for the Pontypridd Eisteddfod.
Mr Phillips said: “The fact that a local Welsh-born Lord Mayor of London was carrying out the Proclamation Ceremony created huge hysteria in the heart of the Rhondda coalmining area.
“This was a homecoming on an enormous scale.”
Crowds flocked to Pontypridd to see the ceremony and proudly welcome home someone who was doing so much to raise the image of Wales and its people.
On 4 July 1892, the Lord Mayor’s horse-drawn carriage with postilion riders travelled from Llantrisant over the mountain via Penycoedcae.
The carriage was escorted by a large number of mounted police who had been brought in from Barry, Cardiff, Penarth and Merthyr.
Large numbers of people in traps and on horseback gathered to see the Lord Mayor whilst cheering crowds congregated on the mountaintop wherever they could get a good view.
At the old toll house, which was the town boundary, a welcome arch had been erected inscribed ‘Croesaw i Bontypridd’.
From here, the carriage was accompanied by a huge procession consisting of the local Eisteddfod Committee; bards from the Gorsedd, the fire brigade; local societies such as the Masons, the True Ivorites, the Oddfellows and other local groups.
Interspersed throughout the parade were brass bands from Pontypridd, Cyfartha, Aberaman and Treforest.
As the procession descended from Penycoedcae, a volley of musket fire rang out to signal to the thousands below that the Lord Mayor was on his way.
The excited cheers from the crowds below echoed loudly throughout the valleys.
When the procession reached Pontypridd town centre it was festooned with bunting, flags, triumphal arches and other elaborate decorations.
Every vantage point was taken and ladies in their finery enthusiastically waved their handkerchiefs from upstairs windows and balconies.
The Proclamation was being performed at the historic bardic Rocking Stone on Pontypridd Common, but the Lord Mayor’s carriage had real difficulty getting through the town due the enormous densely packed crowds.
At the Rocking Stone, the Lord Mayor, dressed in his crimson ceremonial robes, and representatives from the Gorsedd of Bards proclaimed that the National Eisteddfod in 1893 would be held in Pontypridd and the list of competition prizes was read out.
There was an estimated crowd of some 20,000 on the Common to witness the Proclamation and reports of crowds of 60,000 in the town.
During the evening after the ceremony, a public banquet was held at Pontypridd’s Market Hall where 500 people attended to honour the Lord Mayor.
Following his return to London, the Lord Mayor sent a letter to his hosts saying: ‘I shall ever recollect the enthusiasm and warmth of my reception from the thousands of people who gathered together on the hill side and who assembled to do honour to their Welsh compatriot.
“I have never seen so many people assembled together at one time before, even in the largest pageants in London”.
Just a few weeks after his visit to Pontypridd, Alderman David Evans was knighted by Queen Victoria.
The Proclamation Ceremony for the 2024 Rhondda Cynon Taf National Eisteddfod takes place at 3pm at the Ron Jones Stadium, Aberdare on Saturday 24 June preceded at 2pm by a procession through the town starting and finishing at the Sobell Leisure Centre.
Sheldon Phillips book ‘No One Remembers Pontypridd: The forgotten story of the 1893 National Eisteddfod of Wales’ is available from Storyville Books, Pontypridd and online via carreg-gwlach.cymru
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